Persona Walkthrough


The other day I was helping a good friend and colleague with a “persona walkthrough.” A persona walkthrough is when you “walkthrough” your experience assuming the role of the persona. In this case, we were walking through an online experience. We started with a persona named Sally. Sally is a “Soccer Mom” – she is married with children and spends a great deal of her time coordinating activities for her children. We first discussed how Sally came to find out about the company’s service – did she do a search that took her here or did a friend recommend it. This is important to know because it gets into Sally’s frame of mind – or mental model.

The most important part of an online experience is the first impression which is usually the home page. The home page must:

  1. Look professional. Yes – the visual appearance is the most important thing. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of a good visual design, and therefore, a great visual designer. If your first impression does not look professional then you just lost Sally and most other personas, too. Sally has gotten use to Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc. – and you have to be that good… otherwise she clicks away to your competitor.
  2. Clear brand. At-a-glance, Sally needs to confirm that the name of your website matches her expectation. Don’t be too clever with your logo where Sally can’t quickly make out the name. She wants to be reassured that this is the right place for what she is looking for. The logo of most sites are in the top left – that is where Sally and most everyone else is going to be looking for your brand to confirm that they are at the right place. More than just graphic design, a good brand design professional is a good investment.
  3. Tagline. Usually next to the logo is a tagline. A good tagline describes what your products or services does in one concise sentence. Don’t get too clever with this either. Be direct and use plain English. Sally needs to know what you do for her – not what you do – but what you do for her. Working with someone who has a strong marketing and business development background can help you develop your value proposition and messaging can go a long way to retaining Sally and others like her.
  4. Clear call to action. OK, you have convince Sally that you are legit with a professional looking site, confirmed who you are with a professional logo and provided a tagline that clearly states your value to Sally. Congratulations! She hasn’t left your site at her first glance. Now you need to give Sally a clear “call to action” – make it very clear what she needs to do to get what she wants. This may be Search, Learn More, Buy Now or whatever Sally most wants to do to complete her goal. By the way, Dave’s goals may be different and he may need a different call to action. Having good content writers can ensure that you get your call to action right. And a good interaction designer also ensures that the interactions are what Sally (and Dave and others) expect.

I recently did a persona walkthrough for a UX Boot Camp. Same process: I assumed a persona of a guest of the boot camp and thought through how they found out about the event; website experience; online sign up; how they would find the location; parking; the path to the entrance; front door experience; registration experience; etc. The same principles applied. The same applies to a store experience, hospital experience or a ride at Disney. 🙂

I will be talking about this in more detail at my next UX Boot Camp, May in Orange County. We are still working out the exact date and location.